When outfielder Austin Jackson tracks down a deep fly or Detroit Tigers teammate Phil Coke throws a scoreless inning of relief, New York general manager Brian Cashman doesn’t fret about the fact that both players could still be Yankees.
“I don’t block it out at all,” Cashman said Tuesday in the visitors’ dugout at Comerica Park before Game 3 of the AL championship series. “We gave up good players, but you have to do that to get good players.”
On Dec. 9, 2009, Detroit dealt center fielder Curtis Granderson to New York in a three-team deal that also included Arizona. Jackson and Coke were sent from the Yankees to the Tigers, who also got Game 4 starter Max Scherzer from the Diamondbacks.
Granderson surpassed 40 homers and 100 RBIs in each of the past two seasons with the Yankees, finishing fourth in 2011 AL MVP voting. But he entered Game 3 hitless in seven at-bats with five strikeouts during this year’s ALCS.
Jackson has been a key player for the Tigers in the field and at the plate. Coke gave up only one hit in three innings of relief to help them win the first two games at Yankee Stadium.
In the first trade of the 2009 winter meetings, Arizona acquired pitcher Edwin Jackson from Detroit and right-hander Ian Kennedy from the Yankees while the Tigers also got pitcher Daniel Schlereth from Arizona.
Granderson was — and is — a popular player in Detroit, but he was moved in a trade in which money — of course — was a factor. Granderson’s salary was $10 million this year, while the Tigers received four players who cost less than $6 million combined.
“There’s a lot of people in that trade, so it’s hard to keep up with everybody,” Scherzer said. “Really, once I got traded over to Detroit, it has been a great home for me. I’m so happy to be in this city and play for this team and this organization. And to be a part of something special here is great, and hopefully we can keep going.”
Since the trade, there’s been plenty of history between the teams. Detroit eliminated the Yankees in the first round of last year’s playoffs, winning a decisive Game 5 in New York.
EXTRA ARM: Cardinals pitcher Jake Westbrook was pumped up after throwing 49 pitches in a simulated game Tuesday, saying he’d be ready whenever the team needed him.
“Without a doubt. I feel strong in saying that, especially the way today went,” Westbrook said. “I have a lot of confidence after the way I threw today.”
The 13-game winner has been sidelined with a strained right oblique since Sept. 8. He’s thrown off the mound four times and said he was eager to contribute. Westbrook could be available in the World Series if St. Louis gets past the San Francisco Giants in the NLCS.
“That would be great,” Westbrook said. “That’s why I’m doing all this, to have that opportunity if need be, and just let them know I’m ready.”
The simulated game also allowed a few reserves, including Skip Schumaker, Matt Carpenter, Adron Chambers and injured Lance Berkman, to hone their swings.
“Jake threw very well,” manager Mike Matheny said. “It was a win all around. As we move forward, much like the Berkman question, we need to see what we have available, take a look at all the options and look at the opposition and be able to make an adjustment from there.”
Berkman, who has missed most of the season with knee problems, feels better but isn’t optimistic about playing again this season. Thus far, he hasn’t done much running.
“Miracle is probably a strong word, but it’s certainly unexpected,” Berkman said. “I’m really actually pleased with where I am physically given how I felt two or three weeks ago.”
Westbrook said his next step is uncertain. He might throw another extended bullpen session to stay sharp.
Westbrook was hurt in a loss at home to Milwaukee. The right-hander recalled getting injured on a pitch that was no different from any other delivery, and then gutting out the rest of the inning.
“I kind of knew I was done after that,” he said. “It was probably not the smartest thing to keep throwing, but I wanted to kind of fight through it. I was able to get through the rest of the inning unscathed.”
GO THE DISTANCE: Jack Morris knows all about heavy workloads.
The former Detroit Tigers ace threw out the ceremonial first pitch Tuesday night before Game 3 of the ALCS. Asked what he thought about Justin Verlander’s shutout in Game 5 of the division series against Oakland, Morris took an unsolicited swipe at the Washington Nationals for shutting down Stephen Strasburg in September.
“I think everybody in the Washington Nationals’ front office should pay attention that guys should go deep into games,” Morris said. “I shouldn’t say that, should I?”
Strasburg was shut down with about 3½ weeks left in his first “full” season following reconstructive elbow surgery. Wanting to protect his arm, the Nationals put an innings limit on their young ace.
Morris, who won seven postseason games for Detroit, Minnesota and Toronto, said Verlander isn’t the only active pitcher working deep in games. He noted that CC Sabathia also threw a complete game to help the Yankees get past Baltimore in their previous series.
“It reminds me that there’s still hope,” Morris said. “I believe the pitch count is overrated. I think the whole thing will come to fruition, the cycle, the experiment, and they will see that there is value in starting pitching to go deep in the games, to help save the bullpen.”
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